{mosimage}TORONTO - Msgr. Thomas Barrett Armstrong, a priest who knew the inner workings of beauty and shared the gift of music with hundreds of students, his city and his church, passed away peacefully at the Cardinal Ambrozic Houses of Providence Nov. 14, just days before his 80th birthday.

Ripples from the former director of music at St. Michael’s Choir School  lifetime of teaching and conducting are preserved everywhere in the musical life of Toronto and Canada, said Lydia Adams, conductor of the Elmer Iseler Singers. 

Two auxiliary bishops appointed for Toronto include Vietnamese refugee

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TORONTO - Canada's first non-white bishop along with a man who has spent 20 years forming young priests are ready to share in the leadership of Canada's biggest, richest and most diverse diocese.

Fr. Vincent Nguyen (Nguyen Manh Hieu), who came to Canada as a teenaged refugee in 1984 and is a great-grandson of one of 117 Vietnamese Martyrs canonized in 1988, will make the transition from chancellor of spiritual affairs and moderator of the curia to auxiliary bishop with a Toronto ordination likely some time in January

Faith helped Lithuanian bishop survive gulag

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{mosimage}TORONTO - A persecuted priest in the then Soviet-occupied Lithuania, Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius says it was his daily, secret celebration of the Eucharist in his prison cell, as well as his love for God and compassion for others, that helped him survive and grow stronger in his faith.

Tamkevicius was keynote speaker at a Nov. 2 multi-faith reflection on being persecuted for your faith at the University of Toronto’s Multi-Faith Centre. He spoke of his struggles as one of the leading figures in the underground Lithuanian Catholic Church and how he was able to forgive his persecutors through prayer and God’s love.

Tamkevicius said he harbours no anger or hatred towards his tormentors, because “most guilty” was the inhumane system of Soviet communism.

Church must be diligent in selecting priests, bishops, Collins says

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TORONTO - Archbishop Thomas Collins, in his first public comment on the scandal following the arrest of Nova Scotia Bishop Raymond Lahey on child pornography charges, challenged church leaders to be diligent in selecting suitable priests and bishops and to uphold their “solemn obligation” to act immediately when an offence occurs.

Speaking to 1,700 people at the 30th annual Cardinal’s Dinner Oct. 29, he called pornography “a scourge upon our society” and said he is enraged by the proliferation of this multi-billion-dollar industry. And society’s outrage is more intense when a priest or bishop uses pornography, and “rightly so,” he said, because they are entrusted by God so “any abuse of that trust is a betrayal of our vows to God.”

“To me, as a bishop, the pain of any priestly scandal is a sharp personal reminder that I need to do all that I can to be sure that those who are ordained, for all their inescapable human frailty, are living their vocation with integrity.”

Catholic Register Books launches Fr. Raby book

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{mosimage}TORONTO - When Carmel Joyce heard that a collection of columns from “The Little World of Fr. Raby” were to be revived in book form, she immediately remembered the rectory washing machine.

Joyce, now 84, was a devoted reader and faithful housekeeper to Msgr. Tom Raby for many decades. Among the many humourous  Raby columns she enjoyed over the years, she recalls one in which she confronted a man selling her a new washing machine. He told Joyce that he used to attend Mass, but stopped, prompting the devout housekeeper to launch into a “real sermon” that ended when he promised to return to church.

To Joyce’s surprise, the scene was replayed with typical Raby humour in a column that told how a shopping trip became a missionary expedition.

Euthanasia OK in certain circumstances, Quebec doctors say

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{mosimage}A position paper by the Quebec College of Physicians has raised significant ethical questions about the obligations of doctors by calling for amendments to the Criminal Code to permit doctors to kill some terminally ill patients.

In becoming Canada’s first regulatory body to openly support legalized euthanasia, the Quebec college has taken the controversial stand that in some situations ending a life should be regarded as a legitimate treatment option for doctors.

“We are saying death can be an appropriate type of care in certain circumstances,” Dr. Yves Robert said at a Nov. 3 press conference. Such circumstances would include cases in which death is imminent and inevitable.

Dr. Tim Lau, president of the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians’ Societies, said he was anticipating the Quebec report but was shocked by the final wording.

Lahey back in court in December

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{mosimage}OTTAWA - The child-pornography case against Bishop Raymond Lahey has been put off until Dec. 16 following a request by Lahey’s lawyer.

Lahey was to appear in court on Nov. 4 but his lawyer asked for additional disclosure of evidence related to charges laid Sept. 25 of possessing and importing child pornography.

The former Antigonish bishop could still face additional charges in Nova Scotia, where RCMP  executed a search warrant Oct. 13, seizing computers and electronic equipment from Lahey’s residences. RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Brigdit Leger said the forensic analysis could take several weeks.

Dioceses put pandemic plans into high gear

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{mosimage}TORONTO - As Canadians come to grips with an expected H1N1 flu pandemic, Catholic dioceses across Canada are taking extra precautionary steps to guard against the flu that has so far claimed the lives of 95 Canadians.

Steps were in place in many dioceses to stem the spread of H1N1, also known as swine flu. But they are being ramped up in some dioceses.

DiCarlo's religious supply superstore opens

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{mosimage}TORONTO - It’s a place where priests can shop and feel at home and even get a nice cup of espresso while they discuss their purchases.

DiCarlo Religious Supply Centre Inc. , which recently celebrated the grand opening of an 11,000 square-foot outlet that includes a 5,000 square-foot showroom, is well-known as a friendly place for clergy and the public to find what they need.

More funds for Philippines relief

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{mosimage}TORONTO - With Filipinos still digging their homes out of the mud, and many more with no homes to return to after Typhoon Ketsana swept through the region just north of Manila Sept. 26, Canadians continue to add to the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace’s relief fund.

Following an initial $50,000 contribution, Development and Peace has raised a further $108,000 to help Caritas in the Philippines. That total does not include $70,000 sent in so far by Toronto parishes to ShareLife.

Pennies for life raise $100,000

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{mosimage}TORONTO - What can a penny buy today? More than you think.

Twenty-five ago, when Mary Hughes was a youthful 75-year-old, she heard her grandchildren teasing their father about having a sore back because he couldn’t pass a penny on the sidewalk without bending to pick it up. It got her thinking about all the stray pennies people pass by without notice or exile to their piggy banks. What if all those pennies could be collected and put towards a good cause, she wondered.